Krampus (2015) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Krampus (2015) Review

Horrorific content by Jessica Gomez on December 17th, 2020 | Movie Review | Christmas, Holiday

When a young boy loses the spirit of Christmas, he and his family are visited by Krampus - the evil version of Santa Claus.

Krampus was directed by Michael Dougherty (also directed Trick 'R Treat) and stars Adam Scott (from Piranha 3D), Toni Collette (from Hereditary and Fright Night), Allison Tolman (from The Gift), David Koechner (from Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse) and Emjay Anthony.

You Better Watch Out.

Krampus Review

Michael Dougherty loves Christmas. That much is evident in Krampus, a fun, devilish lesson in  treating each other well and rekindling the meaning of the holiday. Dougherty puts a nightmarish spin on some of the greatest Christmas tales in history to teach us all what it means to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

Beginning with scenes of holiday shopping gone awry, the stage is set for the real horror - that the spirit has truly been lost in many ways, both to commercialism and to our judgements of each other. Young Max, though, still believes in Santa Claus. He’s on the older end of the belief-spectrum, and he is the only one in his family who longs for the days when Christmas was spent together, experiencing the holiday through family traditions. When his extended family arrives to stay at his house and begins emotional torture on him, the stress everyone is under, and some embarrassment over his cousins poking fun at him for believing in Santa, causes him to break. He rips up his letter to Santa in pure anger, and the loss of love for the holiday conjures Krampus, the alternate, demonic version of Santa Claus. Krampus seeks not to reward, but to punish.

The family wakes up days before Christmas to a blizzard and no power - winter horror really is the best horror - and in A Christmas Carol fashion, Max and his family are visited by a number of strange beings. Much of the movie is light-hearted, but when it comes to Krampus and his minions, the special effects pulled no punches. Krampus himself is dark and ominous, but the disgusting and traumatizing scenes with the jack-in-the-box, you won’t soon forget. As more and more of the Krampus companions arrive, members of his family begin to vanish. Max’s Omi, who speaks mainly German (an homage to the German culture where the folklore of Krampus originated), looks pained through the entire film, and finally reveals that she has also been visited by Krampus after a wicked wish of her own. She was left behind to carry on the belief of Krampus, and she urges the family to keep the fire hot, indicating that Krampus arrives down the chimney much like someone else we know - giving way to a couple of very Gingerdead Man-esque scenes.

So after some terrifying encounters, the family holes up in a boarded-up house, Night of the Living Dead style. The true punishment is not that the family won’t get gifts; it’s the emotional torture of having your family taken from you, and through tragedy, the family begins to understand that they do love each other. Will Max realize, like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, that the ones close to us make it all worthwhile? Or will Krampus leave behind a bell for Max as a warning to all those who lose the spirit of the holiday?

The ridiculous nature of much of the film is part of the fun - we’re seeing some world-class actors taking on roles where they’re battling monsters akin to what you’d find in Demonic Toys. But what Doughtery does so well is intersperse these moments of humor with some truly dark, scary themes and effects. You don’t want this storm coming your way.

Worth Watching?

Yes! It’s a creepier sibling of Gremlins. It’s as much a Christmas movie as it is a horror movie, making it as endearing and entertaining as it is ghoulish and macabre. It’s everything you could ask for in Christmas horror.

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